Sweding, if you don’t remember, was an Internet trend inspired by the 2008 comedy Be Kind Rewind. In that film, Jack Black and Mos Def played lovable klutzes who managed to magnetically wipe the entire stock of their local video store. Fearing repercussions, they set about trying to remake all the films they’d lost, filming on a VHS camcorder and playing all the roles themselves.
Endearingly, the makers of Be Kind Rewind actively encouraged people to ‘swede’ their own favourite films and post the results online. Visit YouTube to see cinematic classics remade as two-minute shorts with someone humming the theme tune. It’s almost always incredibly charming.
The Girl with All the Gifts, an adaptation of the novel by M. R. Carey, sometimes resembles a feature-length sweded version of several other films: principally, 28 Days Later, I Am Legend, and whatever YA dystopian Hunger Games-type film involves pre-pubescent children with special ‘abilities’. This is no bad thing. Significantly, it’s not a rip-off of those films; it’s more like a ballsy low-budget fan-project remake, cobbled together with just enough verve to work.
Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is a young girl incarcerated in a mysterious institution along with several other children. Confined to individual cells and strapped into wheelchairs, these pre-pubescents are treated with contempt and fear by their militaristic-looking turnkeys; the only affection they experience comes from the lovely Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton), who teaches them chemistry and Greek mythology while they sit restrained by straps and buckles.
That’s about as much as you’ll want to know, plot-wise, but it’s not spoiling much to say that TGWATG involves undead monsters, a distant-future wasteland, and one last hope to save humanity. Yes, you’ve seen all this before – but have you seen it professionally sweded? It’s as a swede (a sweder?) that the film just about succeeds, transcending its ropey-ness through smart budget-allocation and the sheer earnestness with which old material is cheaply recycled.
A visibly minimal amount was spent on the special effects used to make England look devastated, which is laudable; no amount of money can take the bathos out of a post-apocalyptic UK high street. The vines climbing up the front of Next, the looted M&S, the abandoned Timpson: all of this inspires chuckles, and so it doesn’t matter much that TGWATG’s scenery looks like it was made with craft paper and felt-tips.
Clearly, all the money was spent on hiring top-notch acting talent like Arterton, Paddy Considine, and Glenn Close. Close – who could have gone full Cruella De Vil – gives a measured performance of sympathetic villainy that’s miles better than you’d have any right to expect.
This makes sense: if you’re going to play a game of make-believe,
inspired by your favourite monster-movies, you might as well play with people
who are going to take the whole thing seriously.
|What||The Girl with All the Gifts film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
23 Sep 16 – 23 Nov 16, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|